Report – Islam and democracy towards active citizenship
The Center for the Studies of Islam and Democracy Center held in collaboration with the Al Medina Memory association and in partnership with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, a training g course entitled: Islam and democracy towards active citizenship, targeting a group of imams and preachers, in 29-30 November, 2016 in al Rayhan Space Kairouan.
Mrs. Manal Abene head of Al Medina Memory Association delivered the opening speech by welcoming the guests and praising the role and efforts made by imams and the concerned authorities in order to promote moderate religious discourse. After that the floor was left to Mr. Massoudi Abidi the Program Coordinator of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy who introduced the Center’s activities and its general objectives of the event.
After the opening session the trainers started by identifying the concept of democracy which was defined by the participants as a mechanism of participation in governance, coexistence and management of differences, the rule of the people and the people participation. The participants also agreed that Al Shura in Islam is a form of democracy, which is how to choose a power stemming from a human being and to serve him as a product of human thought. Following that, they had a deep discussion about the concept of democracy through a stimulation exercise based on a short story, followed by a coffee break in a friendly atmosphere which left a wider space for more discussion between participants.
Following the opening session, the participants worked on identifying the different component of a democratic system through a rich discussion and collectively and exercise resulting the following principles: the power of the people: inclusive participation for citizens / pluralism in all fields / transparency / power control / women participation / rule of majority / Multiparty / freedom / equality / freedom / independence of the judiciary power.
Some participants stressed that democracy is not a religion and that Islam is based on democratic principles emerging from people needs and serving them.
The second day started with an active enthusiastic spirit from the participants, as they dealt with the second chapter which is « how the state institutions are functioning? Through group discussion and a brainstorming.
The answers varied as follows: the state is working through its institutions: legislative, executive, judicial and presidential: prime minister (external defense) and the Presidency of the Republic, the state oversee the power distribution according the provisions of the constitution.
Within the debate section of the trainer, Mr. Salem Brahm splitted the participants into two main groups to stimulate the work of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People and representing the ruling coalition and the opposition to discuss serval topics namely: Birthright inheritance equality between men and women. The participants evaluated this exercise as a tool to help the acceptance of others, and the values of coexistence in light of the differences in point of view and thoughts. They also praised the rich dialogue and exchange, which might help to understand others perspectives. They added that this exercise is crucial in order to improving freedom of expression and persuasion.
The topic of the second debate session was corruption, which was considered as any power abuse made by authorities or any excess of law enforcement. One of the participants said that the fear under democratic state is not a fear of law itself but the way it is interpreted and used. Participants talked also about two kind of corruption: the huge kind of corruption which is inconsistent with the principles of Islamic Sharia and the small but dominant and dangerous kind of corruption, such as bribery, extortion, monopoly to achieve self interest,
Within the context of the exchange and talk about the importance of associative and civil society work as a whole and the participatory democracy. Participants discussed the exercise and put it through a program to advocate an issue.
The first team work was organized as follows:
1. Drafting statements and correspondence to illustrate the point of view.
2. Media campaign include:
– Newspapers, media, radio and television.
– Social media Modern means of communication (Facebook, Email)
– Phone calls
3. Direct reach out campaign including:
– Human rights associations, feminists, intellectuals, artists, unions, youth…
– Political parties.
– International organizations.
4. Organizing cultural activities:
– Intellectual gatherings
5. Substantive activities:
6. Marches in Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
The second team, introduced forms of advocacy as follows:
– Awareness days
– Cultural events